“Abe Peterson. Husband, father, notorious criminal,” the man read off the tombstone. “Wonder what he did.”
The man turned to look at his wife. “I was being serious.”
“So was I. Look, there’s roses. Who leaves roses for a murderer?”
The man crossed his arms. “His wife? His children? The victim’s family?”
“Naw,” the wife said, doubtfully. “I wouldn’t do it if you were murdered.”
“Oh,” said the man. His eyes began to sting. There was a strange smell in the air, smoky and acrid, like wood chips mixed with vinegar.
“Cremation?” offered the wife.
“Perhaps,” he said, finally turning away from Abe Peterson. “The sweet smell of corpses burning. Did you leave the wreath for Ma?”
The wife nodded.
“Then let’s get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.”
They walked hand-in-hand to the pick-up truck. “You sure you don’t want to visit your parents?” he asked.
“Don’t see why. They seemed like decent folks.”
“How would you know? You never met them. Don’t even know their names.”
“They raised you, didn’t they? ‘sides, your father was respectable, right? Plumber? Mason? Carpenter?”
The wife looked down. There was a long scratch down the side of her hand where the rose thorns had scratched her. “He evaded taxes,” she whispered, too softly to hear. “No matter what the media says. No one leaves roses for a murderer.”